In a recently decided federal case (Tinoco v. Thesis Painting, Inc.), the United States District Court, for the Southern District of Maryland held that a company’s anti-discrimination policy, was “defective or dysfunctional” because it was provided to employees only in English.
In this case, a female employee claimed that she had been sexually harassed by her male coworker. The company attempted to avoid liability using the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense. Under this defense, an employer may avoid liability for co-worker harassment if the employer exercises reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassing behavior, among other things. “Exercising care” can be demonstrated by implementing and distributing an effective harassment policy.
Here, the Court found that the company’s anti-discrimination policy was ineffective because it was only distributed to employees in English. The alleged harasser only spoke Spanish and did not understand any English. Therefore, he was unable to read or understand the policy. Continue reading NEW CASE: Harassment Policies Should be Provided In Multiple Languages